Military officials view December as the optimal month for a US and Iraqi government offensive to reclaim the rebel enclave of Fallujah ahead of January national elections. \nDecember is when Iraqi forces will come on line ready to participate in a full-fledged operation to take out Fallujah, considered the planning center for many of the spectacular car bombings that have plagued the country. \nA security plan, drafted by the new Iraqi government and the top US General in Iraq, George Casey, calls for combined US and Iraqi security forces to claim back cities like Fallujah, Ramadi and Samarra that have swung out of their control. \nThe deadline is the January elections -- Iraq's first free polls in five decades -- which are in jeopardy amid the wave of bombings and assassinations. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has raised skepticism about the date. \n"Fallujah will be tough and we've got to make a decision when the cancer of Fallujah needs to be cut out ... We would like to end December at local control across the country," one senior officer told reporters. \nThe deputy for training Iraqi security forces, Brigadier Nigel Aylwin-Foster, told reporters that Iraqi forces still needed to gain more experience but that chances for victory would be high in December. \n"It really depends on what level of risk the [Iraqi] leadership is prepared to take," Aylwin-Foster said. \n"There will be a lot more security forces available by December. There will still be a level of risk, but there will be less risk than there is now because there will be more security forces." \nBut Aylwin-Foster stressed he did not know what the US and Iraqi leadership would decide was a proper number of Iraqi forces for an attack on Fallujah. Still, in December, roughly 7,200 men from nine elite intervention force battalions will be on line, with three of the units able to operate independently. \nThe intervention force has been designed specifically for fighting inside Iraq and is a by-product of April's failed US assault on Fallujah that saw Iraqi soldiers and national guard desert, unprepared to fight their countrymen. \nThe number of regular army battalions will have more than doubled to roughly 13,000 soldiers by December, with nine out of 16 battalions rated capable of independent action and trained for guerrilla warfare. \nThe interior ministry will also have a "civil intervention force," made up of police, ready in December to join any major fight, Aylwin-Foster added. \nMore than 40,000 national guardsmen would also be deployable for an offensive on rebel hotbeds. \nThe chairman of US joint chiefs of staff, General Richard Myers, stressed on Sept. 7 a campaign to reclaim Fallujah would need an Iraqi face and said Iraqi forces would not be ready until December. \n"By December, we're going to have a substantial number of Iraqi security forces equipped, trained and led to conduct the kind of operations I was talking about,"
‘WITHIN SAFE LIMITS’: Hong Kong is to ask authorities in Guangdong for updates regarding the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant and inform the public of developments The Hong Kong government is closely watching a nearby Chinese nuclear power plant following a news report that it might be leaking, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥) said yesterday. The plant’s operators have released few details, but nuclear experts have said that based on their brief public statement, the facility might be suffering a leak of gas from fuel rods inside a reactor. Government data showed that radiation levels in Hong Kong were normal on Monday night, Lam said. Data from the Hong Kong Observatory showed radiation levels were still normal yesterday. A French company that helps manage the Taishan Nuclear
Maori might have been the first to discover Antarctica, with connections to the icy continent and its surrounding oceans stretching back to the seventh century, researchers say. A new paper by University of Otago combines literature and oral histories, and concludes that Maori were likely the first people to explore Antarctica’s surrounding waters and possibly the continent in the distance. They write that Maori and Polynesian journeys to the deep south have been occurring for a long time, perhaps as far back as the 7th century, and are recorded in a variety of oral traditions. The oral histories of Maori groups Ngti Rrua
Until recently, the location of executed Japanese prime minister Hideki Tojo’s remains was one of World War II’s biggest mysteries in the nation he once led. Now, a Japanese university professor has revealed declassified US military documents that appear to hold the answer. The documents show the cremated ashes of Tojo, one of the masterminds of the Pearl Harbor attack, were scattered from a US Army aircraft over the Pacific Ocean about 50km east of Yokohama, Japan’s second-largest city. It was a tension-filled, highly secretive mission, with US officials taking extreme steps to keep Tojo’s remains, and those of six others executed
In India’s capital, New Delhi, thousands of commuters yesterday crowded into underground train stations and shopping malls, prompting some doctors to say that it could lead to a resurgence in COVID-19 infections. Major Indian cities have begun lifting strict lockdowns as the nationwide tally of new infections has dropped to its lowest level in more than two months. However, disease experts and doctors have cautioned that a race toward resuming business as usual would compromise vaccination efforts, as only about 5 percent of all 950 million eligible adults have been inoculated. Doctors have said New Delhi’s near-complete reopening is concerning. The city’s authorities